On a dreary Sunday last month, as we were brainstorming ideas to get us out of the house, but also keep us out of the weather, we hit on 221B Baker Street, the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London. Now, I should preface this by admitting that I haven’t read any Sherlock stories since the 6th grade, and two Sherlock Holmes movies and a couple episodes of Elementary does not a true fan make, but I was still quite interested in seeing the recreation of the home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous fictional character.
We could see the queue outside the Sherlock Holmes Museum from down the street, which typically isn’t a very good sign, especially if the clouds above you are ominously dark and you’ve forgotten your umbrella at home.
We went inside the museum’s gift shop to purchase our tickets (£8 for adults, £5 for kids) before joining the queue at the museum door. The Sherlock Holmes Museum gift shop is one of the better ones I’ve seen, but if you visit, don’t get distracted. Buy your tickets and join the queue asap. You’ll have plenty of time to purchase your very own pipe and deerstalker cap after the tour!
The queue, surprisingly, moved quicker than we expected. Every fifteen minutes or so, groups of visitors were allowed to enter and then a 19th century policeman would move to stand guard over the front door. He stays in character and is happy to oblige if you really must have your photo taken with him. After only thirty minutes of waiting, it was our turn to enter.
We climbed 17 steps and were told by the maid, also in character, that our first stop would be Sherlock’s bedroom. It was a good thing we had been the first people in our group to enter because this bedroom was tiny. Even with just the three of us in here, it felt tight. As others from our group started joining us in the bedroom, it became difficult to move around and look at the contents in the room. I felt a bit rushed to move on so that others could have an opportunity to see the room, too. And you guys know how much I hate to be rushed. I like taking my time everywhere we go!
And so we quickly moved along to Sherlock’s beautiful Victorian study, sitting room, and laboratory in one. This was the most detailed and interesting of all the rooms we saw, but also the most popular and so, once again, we felt pressure to keep moving, but not before we took a kitschy photo with props next to Sherlock’s fireplace. (I’m being completely serious when I say I think I pulled that look off pretty well. It’s the boots – they belong with that hat!) These photos are rather awkward to take since there are a dozen people watching you, waiting to take their own, but it’s kind of fun so you really ought to do it. The maid will take your picture if you don’t have someone with you who can.
Mrs Hudson’s Bedroom
After the study, we went up another flight of stairs and into Mrs. Hudson’s bedroom. She was Holmes’ and Watson’s landlady, if you weren’t aware. Her room is surrounded in glass cases and shelves displaying objects that fans will recognize from the stories. (And I might have if I’d read any in this century. I’m going to get on that right away.) This room is much larger and more open than those downstairs, and a little less popular, so we were able to take a bit more time looking around without bumping into things or being shoved by other visitors.
On the same floor as Mrs. Hudson’s room is the bedroom belonging to the beloved Doctor Watson. Given that I didn’t have much time to explore the study and Sherlock’s bedroom, this room ended up being my favorite from the tour. Like Mrs. Hudson’s room, there are many things showcased in here that readers will recognize from the stories, but also those that are so very Watson, like his books of medicine and the butterfly collection hanging on the wall. I’ve always liked Watson (and not just because Jude Law plays him in the movies!), who, if I remember correctly, is the narrator of all the Sherlock Holmes stories.
Up yet another flight of stairs is what I’d call the “Madame Tussauds section”, and how appropriate as Madame Tussauds is just a short walk away from the Sherlock Holmes Museum. This part of the museum creeped me out big time. Wax figures representing characters like The Man With The Twisted Lip and Professor Moriarty are just a little too real-looking for me, although they are kind of fun to take goofy pictures with if you’re not afraid of other people looking at you oddly. (I’m used to getting the weird side-eye glance when I take pictures for the blog. Trust me, it stops bothering you after awhile.)
My final take on the Sherlock Holmes Museum? Too many people in too small of a space. There are so many things to look at, but not enough time and space to see them in. We were in and out in about 15-20 minutes. No one made us leave, but as new groups were coming in after us and stragglers from the groups before us still hadn’t left yet, the museum became uncomfortably crowded and I just wanted to get out. If you’re a fan of the books, and not just the movies, it would definitely be worth the chaos to see the museum. Everyone else, maybe not so much. If you’re intent on seeing it, going early on a weekday would probably alleviate some of the congestion inside the museum and make the experience a little more enjoyable. But that, my dear readers, is elementary advice, now isn’t it? (See what I did there?)
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